Remember the Polaroid camera used some decades ago? They are back and better than ever. It’s no surprise that this camera became popular again, it is super much fun. Some nice shots of your friends, that beautiful flower or your dog and that’s it, right…? Well, you’ve guessed it, that’s not the case. Japan goes a step further with these Polaroids.
Japan has another name for the Polaroids: チェキ (cheki) and part of them have another purpose than just a nice shot. I want to introduce you to one of my addictions which many Japanese also seem to have: collecting cheki from your favourite artist! This can be from your favourite band, idolgroup, voice actors, you name it. It’s not something new though, this trend is already going since the beginning of this century. I even heard a story of a girl who had over 900 cheki of her favourite singer!
Most cheki are sold at events like concerts or instore events. The cheki of the artists are taken before the start of the event so the cheki has something special to it. After the event you can buy them at the merchandise table, if there is no merchandise table they’ll make it obvious which staff members sells the cheki. Prices vary but most of the time cheki are 500 yen (about 4-5 euro) each and you get them randomly so you can’t choose, after the event fans trade with each other.
At some events it is possible to take a cheki together with the artists, how you can get this depends on the artists. Sometimes you only have to pay a certain amount of money but what I experienced the most is buying a certain release from a band at a certain CD shop. And one time I got a lucky draw and my prize was a cheki with 1 member of a band.
Another famous option to gather your cheki is going to second hand shops like Closet Child and Pure Sound. Both sell lots of second hand clothing, CDs, merchandise and also cheki! Cheki prices vary even more here depending on how popular your band or artist is. You can get cheki for 97 yen (around 70 cent) but also around 1000 yen (about 8-9 euro) or 2000 yen (about 18-19 euro), this can be the price of 1 cheki but also for a set (sometimes there are 10 cheki in it!). You can score some really rare ones if you are lucky!
Some cheki can be signed by the artists themselves and sometimes you can let them sign ‘’empty’’ cheki. Another option is to decorate them by yourself with stickers or special pencils to draw on it, Japan has many items for it! If you buy the camera you can make your own of course, but you’re not supposed to take cheki of your artist so please don’t do that. After some time you might gathered a nice little collection but where do you keep them? And what do you do with them? Luckily there are many things you can do with it:
These are just a few examples and there are many more ways. I use the business card holders the most since I have a big collection. The most special ones get a place on the garland or I put them in a frame. I know some people who stick them to the walls in their room or put one in their phone case. You can keep it simple or you can be creative with cheki, it’s all up to you!